Cambrian: Slice of Life

Weatherwise, everything's relative

We’re such weather wimps here on the North Coast. Really we are. When the thermometer rises above 80 degrees or falls below 40, we start whining and mopping our brows, or whimpering and shivering, respectively.

But yeah, I agree with you. We’ve had some cold weather here lately.

In Cambria, temps in the high 20s or low 30s constitute “cold.” Time to drag out the fur-lined boots, gloves, a warm hat and those delightful, long fuzzy scarves dear Geri Warren made for me.


On days like that, comments about the weather launch and change every conversation. “Gee, it’s cold! How cold do you think it was this morning? Yes, it is strange that a meteor just crashed into our living room. We really should do something about that.”

Like many of you, however, I’ve lived where a reading of 20 degrees was considered balmy warm. (Most of us would exclaim in glee over the early-spring weather and celebrate by wandering around outside in our shirtsleeves and flip-flops.) Places like the high Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and in various areas of Montana, Nevada and Arizona. Beautiful, gorgeous, spectacular. And, in winter, very cold.

I learned to drive in mountain country, where piloting an auto meant watching for black ice, especially under overpasses. It meant wrestling with chains and scraping frost and snow off the windshield and the car, which often looked like just another giant mound of snow.

And to think I now grumble about a few pine needles and eucalyptus leaves on the hood silly me.

Mountain-states weather meant measuring snow in feet and living in homes with second-story doors to the outdoors. No, not to a deck or a balcony. Just to the outside. So if snow levels reached 8 or 10 feet overnight, you could still get out of the house. Wearing snowshoes, one would hope, to avoid that sinking feeling.In some irreverent families, those exits were called “mother-in-law doors.” Imagine the scenario that prompted the nickname: “Mother Smith, do let us show you our view. Oh dear, Mother Smith, I forgot to warn you about that first step. So sorry.”

I remember in Evergreen, Colo., one day dawned so warm, I went to school in summer clothes and flat-heeled shoes (no socks). I returned home to find our 1.5-mile private road blanketed in knee-deep snowfall.

I broke trail through that snow, all the way home.

THAT was cold.

During my 40 years in Cambria, however, my blood apparently has thinned out (whatever that means) and my cold-tolerance level has shrunk, literally, by degrees.

Cambria where flowers bloom year-round, where unwrapped pipes run up the outside of buildings, where you don’t have to plug in your car to keep it from freezing, where snowfall is a real event and a snow day means cutting class to take pictures and try to find enough fodder for one measly snowball. Snowman?


When the birds start doing triple-axel jumps on the frozen-solid birdbath behind The Cambrian’s office when there’s frost on the locks of the mini-storage units on Village Lane when car windows need to be scraped (and not just to remove bird doo and pine needles) well, under those conditions, I now agree we’re justified in griping that it’s cold outside.

But when I do, Husband Richard reminds me that when it comes to weather, everything is relative.

In one of his favorite tales, the young woman from Los Angeles was in a panic and had called her grandmother in Minnesota to make sure she was OK.

“Grandma, I’m so glad I got through to you. How are you?” she asked.

“Mercy, child, I’m doing just fine,” the senior citizen replied. “Why do you ask?”

“The Weather Channel just reported about how very, very cold it is today in Minnesota,” the granddaughter said. “So I was worried.”

“Nothing unusual, even though it is a little chilly, dear. I’ll go check,” Grandma said.

When she returned, she reported that “the thermometer reads 20 degrees.”

“What a relief!” her granddaughter said. “The Weather Channel said the temperature was 25 degrees below zero.”

“Oh, you mean outside!” her grandmother said.